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Brick-Mortar Bond and Masonry Compressive Strength

G. Sarangapani1; B. V. Venkatarama Reddy2; and K. S. Jagadish3

Abstract: This paper focuses on some issues pertaining to brick-mortar bond and masonry compressive strength. Failure theories for
masonry under compression make the assumption that the bond between brick and mortar remains intact at the time of failure of the brick
or mortar. The influence of bond strength on masonry compressive strength is not fully accounted for in these failure theories. In this
investigation, the influence of bond strength on masonry compressive strength has been examined through an experimental program using
local bricks and mortars. Masonry prism compressive strength has been determined when the brick-mortar bond strength is varied over a
wide range without altering the strength and deformation characteristics of the brick and mortar. Brick-mortar bond strength has been
determined through flexure bond strength and shear bond strength tests. A relationship between the masonry prism compressive strength
and bond strength has been obtained. The results clearly indicate that an increase in bond strength, while keeping the mortar strength
constant, leads to an increase in the compressive strength of masonry.
DOI: 10.1061/共ASCE兲0899-1561共2005兲17:2共229兲
CE Database subject headings: Bricks; Brick masonry; Compressive strength; Flexural strength; Bonding strength; Mortars.

Introduction sonry compressive strength is not reduced significantly even

when the mortar strength is reduced significantly if the brick-
A number of failure theories have been proposed for brick ma- mortar bond strength is not altered.
sonry in compression 共Hilsdorf 1969; Khoo and Hendry 1973; A large number of factors affect the interfacial brick-mortar
Atkinson et al. 1982; McNary and Abrams 1985兲. These theories bond strength 共Groot 1993兲. The present investigation attempts to
are based on multiaxial stress-deformation characteristics of brick vary brick-mortar bond strength through artificial methods to
and mortar. The theories make an assumption that the bond be- study the implications of bond strength on the compressive
tween brick and mortar remains intact at the time of failure of the strength of masonry. Flexural bond strength as well as shear bond
brick or mortar. However, the experiments on stack bonded strength have been explored.
prisms by Matthana 共1996兲 and Sarangapani 共1998兲 seem to indi-
cate that, when the brick-mortar bond strength is poor, the prism
failure is also accompanied by a failure of the brick-mortar bond. Earlier Studies on Bond Strength of Brick Masonry
It is perhaps also obvious that the interaction between brick and
mortar can have characteristics independent of the deformation There are a large number of investigations on the bond strength of
characteristics of the brick and mortar per se. The bond is very masonry. Lawrence and Cao 共1987兲 attempted to understand the
often influenced by factors such as the surface characteristics of mechanisms of bond development between mortar and brick.
the brick, which may not have any bearing on the deformation of These studies showed that the brick-mortar bond is due to the
the brick or mortar. It is hence interesting to explore the strength network of cement hydration products deposited on the brick sur-
of masonry when the brick-mortar bond strength is varied over a face and inside the brick pores as well. The initial moisture in the
wide range without altering the strength and deformation charac- brick has a role in the penetration of hydration products into the
teristics of the brick and mortar. Venumadhava Rao et al. 共1995兲 brick pores. They conclude that the brick-mortar bond is essen-
made a preliminary study of the influence of bond strength on tially mechanical in nature. Addition of lime appears to improve
compressive strength of masonry. The study showed that the ma- the network of hydration products, but there is inadequate evi-
dence for bond strength improvement.
Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Scrivener et al. 共1992兲 studied the in situ bond strength of clay
Engineering, Mysore 570 008, India. brickwork in Australia. They used the bond wrench test at con-
Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of struction sites for this purpose. It was found that the mean bond
Science, Bangalore 560 012, India. E-mail: venkat@civil.iisc.ernet.in strength varied from 0.21 to 0.85 MPa and the coefficient of
共corresponding author兲. variation from 0.16 to 0.49. This showed that, under field condi-
AICTE Emeritus Fellow, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute tions with minimal supervision, the variation in flexural bond
of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India. E-mail: jagadish@civil.iisc.ernet.in strength could be quite large although the values appear to be
Note. Associate Editor: Christopher K. Y. Leung. Discussion open reasonably high.
until September 1, 2005. Separate discussions must be submitted for in-
Samarasinghe and Lawrence 共1992兲 examined the effect of
dividual papers. To extend the closing date by one month, a written re-
quest must be filed with the ASCE Managing Editor. The manuscript for
high suction rate low strength bricks of Sri Lanka on the brick-
this paper was submitted for review and possible publication on July 15, mortar bond through a brick triplet shear test. They found that
2003; approved on May 7, 2004. This paper is part of the Journal of partly wetted bricks showed greater bond strength than dry and
Materials in Civil Engineering, Vol. 17, No. 2, April 1, 2005. ©ASCE, saturated bricks. The optimum shear bond strength was found to
ISSN 0899-1561/2005/2-229–237/$25.00. vary over a wide range from 0.10 to 0.30 MPa. In general, the


Table 1. Properties of Bricks 关Coefficient of Variation 共%兲 in Parentheses兴
Type of brick B1 B2 B3
Compressive strength 共MPa兲 10.67 共17.85兲 4.29 共40.08兲 3.17 共51.06兲
Water absorption 共by weight兲 共%兲 14.67 共4.18兲 14.77 共8.29兲 18.36 共3.38兲
Initial rate of absorption 共IRA兲 共kg/ m2 / min兲 2.86 共20.75兲 1.31 共32.20兲 3.53 共55.87兲
Flexure strength 共MPa兲 1.10 共16.13兲 0.39 共55.63兲 0.36 共14.24兲
Secant modulus at 25% of ultimate stress 共MPa兲 509 467 485

shear bond strength increased as the compressive strength of mor- compressive strength. The present investigation is an attempt to
tar is increased. understand the influence of brick-mortar bond strength on ma-
Sinha 共1967兲 was perhaps the first to examine the influence of sonry compressive strength.
moisture content at the time of laying on the tensile bond strength
of brick masonry. Although the tensile bond strength of brickwork
is highly variable, saturated and completely dry bricks 共at the time
Scope of Present Study
of laying兲 both show low bond strengths. The mean bond strength
reached its highest value when moisture in the brick was about
80% of the saturation value. In this study, the flexural bond strength and shear bond strength of
Grenley 共1969兲 studied the effect of various mortars on the masonry using different types of local bricks and mortars have
flexural and compressive strength of masonry and on the tensile been considered. Flexural bond strength is determined using a
bond strength of crossed brick assembly. His test results showed modified bond wrench test, and shear bond strength is determined
that, in general, flexural and tensile bond strengths increased with with a test on a brick triplet. For a given brick and mortar type,
the strength of brick and the strength of mortar. The masonry the brick-mortar bond has been altered by using bond-enhancing
compressive strength also showed a similar trend. The correlation methods such as modified brick frogs and coatings on the brick
between bond adhesion and compressive strength of masonry surface. Bond-enhancing techniques have been adopted to evalu-
seems to suggest the importance of brick-mortar bond on masonry ate the effect of increased bond strength on compressive strength
compressive strength. However, the increase in bond strength is of masonry prisms without altering the brick and mortar charac-
also accompanied by an increase in mortar compressive strength. teristics.
Hence, the relative influence of the mortar-brick bond and mortar
compressive strength on the masonry compressive strength is not
clear. Materials Used in Experimental Program
A detailed study of the various factors affecting brick-mortar
bond was carried out by Groot 共1993兲. This study brings out the
importance of moisture transport between mortar and brick in Burnt Clay Bricks
influencing hydration of cementation products. The rate of ab- In India, burnt clay bricks are typically manufactured by employ-
sorption in the brick and the moisture retention in the mortar seem ing a manual molding process and then are burnt in kilns. Locally
to play an important role in this behavior. He also concludes that available burnt clay bricks of three different makes are used in the
the bond problems in burnt clay brick masonry is caused prima- experiments. They have been designated as B1, B2, and B3. De-
rily by unfavorable cement to fine inert material ratio of the in- tails of the various properties of these bricks are given in Table 1.
terfacial zone.
The results given in the Table 1 represent the mean of 30 speci-
Venumadhava Rao et al. 共1996兲 carried out extensive investi-
mens for compressive strength and 10 specimens for water ab-
gations on the flexural bond strength of masonry using a bond
sorption, initial rate of absorption 共IRA兲, and flexure strength. The
wrench test setup. The major conclusions of this study are:
IS 3495 共Bureau of Indian Standards 1976兲 code procedure was
1. Generally, the flexural bond strength increases with an in-
adopted for determining the compressive strength and water ab-
crease in mortar strength for cement mortar, irrespective of
sorption values. IRA was determined using the procedure given in
the type of masonry unit.
2. Composite mortars such as soil-cement mortar and cement ASTM C-67 共ASTM 1995兲. Flexure strength of the bricks was
lime mortar show better bond strength than cement mortars. determined by applying a single-point load on a brick over a span
Brick strength did not have a significant effect on the flexural of 200 mm.
bond strength. Compressive strengths of the B1, B2, and B3 bricks were
3. Moisture content of the brick 共at the time of laying兲 had a 10.67, 4.29, and 3.17 MPa, respectively. The coefficient of varia-
significant influence on the flexural bond strength. There is tion was large for the B2 and B3 bricks. Water absorption values
an optimum moisture content leading to maximum bond ranged between 14.67 and 18.36% with a reasonably low value of
strength. Partly saturated bricks with moisture content values coefficient of variation. IRA values for the 3 bricks varied be-
close to saturation moisture content 共80–85%兲 yield the high- tween 1.31 and 3.53 kg/ m2 / min. Flexure strength values were in
est bond strength. the range of 0.36 to 1.1 MPa. Again, the coefficient of variation
Earlier studies clearly indicate that 共1兲 the brick mortar bond is was quite large for IRA and flexure strength values. Large values
mechanical in nature and is developed due to the interaction of of coefficient of variation can be attributed to a lack of quality
hydration products in the mortar and the brick surface; and 共2兲 control during brick manufacture employing manual methods.
moisture content of the brick at the time of construction has a The secant modulus of these bricks, tested in compression along
significant influence on brick-mortar bond strength. There are no the length, is also presented in Table 1. The extremely low values
clear indications about the influence of bond strength on masonry of elastic moduli 共⬃500 MPa兲 for these bricks are to be noted.


Table 2. Properties of Mortar 共Cube Size= 70⫻ 70⫻ 70 mm兲
Mortar Secant modulus
proportion 28-day compressive at 25% of
共by weight兲, Mortar Water-cement strength ultimate stress
C:So:L:Saa designation ratio 共MPa兲 共MPa兲
1:0:0:4 CM1 0.56 10.57 8,997
1:0:0:6 CM2 0.80 7.32 5,766
1:1:0:6 CSM 0.76 4.20 8,666
1:0:1:6 CLM 1.05 4.11 5,117
C = cement; So= soil; L = lime; Sa= sand.

Mortars strength. In this study, largely flexural bond strength was deter-
mined for various combinations of bricks and mortars mentioned
Cement mortars and composite mortars, listed as follows, were
in the previous section. Shear bond strength was determined using
used in this study. The ratios of various materials shown are by
the B1 type of brick and the CM2 mortar for the purposes of
comparison. Compressive strength of the masonry prisms was
1. Type CM1: cement mortar; proportion= 1 cement:4 sand;
also determined for all the brick mortar combinations tested.
2. Type CM2: cement mortar; proportion= 1 cement:6 sand;
3. Type CSM: cement-soil mortar; proportion= 1 cement:1
soil:6 sand; and Flexural Bond Strength: Modified Bond Wrench Test
4. Type CLM: cement-lime mortar; proportion= 1 cement:1
Flexural bond strength of the brick masonry was determined by
lime:6 sand.
testing five-brick-high bonded prism stacks with a height to thick-
Ordinary portland cement was used for the preparation of mor-
ness ratio of 4. Flexural bond strength of the masonry prisms was
tars, conforming to IS 8112 共Bureau of Indian Standards 1989兲. A
determined using a modified bond wrench test. The bond wrench
natural soil containing 61.2% sand, 29.5% silt, and 9.3% clay
test as specified by the ASTM standard C-1072 is slightly modi-
fractions was used for the cement-soil mortar. Liquid limit and
fied. Fig. 1 shows the details of the modified bond wrench test
plasticity index for the soil were 39.9 and 10.9%, respectively.
setup. The prism was supported on a rigid bottom. The bottom-
Natural river sand having a fineness modulus of 3.05 was used for
most brick of the prism was fully clamped. The load was applied
the mortars. Cement-sand mortar containing an additional mate-
to the top-most brick of the prism through a pulley arrangement.
rial such as lime or soil has been termed as composite mortar.
This load causes a moment in the prism, which will further cause
Compressive strength and the corresponding water-cement
a flexure failure between the masonry unit and the mortar. In this
ratio of these mortars are given in Table 2. In order to maintain
test setup, only one value of flexural bond strength is obtained for
workability, the water-cement ratio for the mortars was kept con-
each prism, because once one joint fails 共generally the bottom-
stant, as indicated in Table 2. For maintaining a similar workabil-
most joint of the prism兲, the other joints of the prism 共already
ity, the water-cement ratio for the richer mortars was less than that
subjected to bending兲 are not tested. This approach is used be-
required for leaner mortars. CM1 mortar is a richer mortar, having
cause with the specimen gripped at a few discrete points 共as in the
a higher cube compressive strength when compared with CM2
standard ASTM bond wrench test兲, joints close to the grip may
mortar. CM2 is the most commonly used mortar for the majority
not be stressed uniformly. Hence, a single joint failure at some
of masonry construction in India. Cube strength of both the com-
distance away from the grips is preferred.
posite mortars 共CSM and CLM兲 was in the same range for dis-
An attempt was made to increase the flexural bond strength of
tinctly different water-cement ratios 共0.76 for CSM and 1.05 for
the masonry prisms using some bond enhancing parameters. Dif-
CLM兲. A composite mortar like CSM is also used for masonry
ferent types of prisms were built in each type of mortar using
construction 共especially for stabilized block masonry兲 in India;
bricks with and without bond-enhancing parameters. The bond-
hence, this mortar has been included in this study. Such mortars
have better workability and develop a better bond with the ma-
sonry units 共Venumadhava Rao et al. 1996兲.
The elastic moduli of the four mortars were also determined
by testing square mortar prisms 共size: 150⫻ 150⫻ 300 mm兲 in
compression. The elastic modulus values ranged between 5,000
and 9,000 MPa. It is useful to observe that the brick masonry in
such situation is very different from what happens in the Western
context, where the brick has a modulus that is much higher than
that of the mortar. Here, we have mortars whose moduli is an
order of magnitude larger than those of the bricks used. This
characteristic of South Indian brick masonry has implications on
the nature of stresses in the brick and mortar. This characteristic
of brick masonry in Bangalore 共South India兲 was also observed
by Matthana 共1996兲.

Experimental Program and Methods of Testing

Brick-mortar bond strength can be experimentally studied by de-

termining either flexural or tensile bond strength or shear bond Fig. 1. Modified bond-wrench test setup


Fig. 3. Shear-bond test setup

Casting and Curing of Prisms and Triplets

Fig. 2. Details of Type C and Type D frogs
The bricks used for casting prisms and triplets were prewetted
before laying. The duration of prewetting of the bricks was
10 min for all cases except for prisms using CM1 type mortar
共1:4 cement mortar兲, where 20 min of prewetting was used. These
enhancing parameters were introduced for two reasons: 共1兲 to values of prewetting duration were chosen to maintain the water-
understand simple ways of increasing the brick-mortar bond; and cement ratio in the mortar above 0.40 even after 1 h contact with
共2兲 to study the effect of flexural bond strength on the compres- the bricks, so that adequate water was available for complete
sive strength of masonry prisms. hydration of the cement in the fresh mortar. More information on
The following bond enhancing techniques were used in the the moisture transport in the bricks, mortars, and masonry and its
present study: implications on mortar characteristics can be found in the studies
1. Type A: cement slurry coating 共1 cement:1 water, by weight兲 of Sarangapani et al. 共2002兲.
on both faces of the bricks; A mortar joint thickness of 10 mm was maintained for all the
2. Type B: epoxy resin coating on both faces of the bricks; cases. The prisms and triplets were cured for 28 days by keeping
3. Type C: additional frog of 28 cm2 area in the form of holes the in moist condition under wet burlap. Six specimens were pre-
of 10 mm depth on the face of the brick where there was no pared in each case. All specimens were tested in a saturated state,
frog 共Fig. 2兲; and achieved by soaking them in water for 48 h prior to testing.
4. Type D: additional frog of 56 cm2 area in the form of a
diamond shape of 10 mm depth on the face of the brick
where there was no frog 共Fig. 2兲. Results and Discussion
Bricks of type B1 were tested with more mortar combinations
and bond-enhancing techniques, whereas the other bricks were
tested with one type of mortar and a bond-enhancing parameter. Flexural Bond Strength
Studies involving B2 and B3 bricks have been carried out mainly The flexural bond strength of the masonry was studied through
for the purposes of comparison; hence, only a few tests were the modified bond wrench test for different combinations of
planned using these types of bricks. bricks, mortars, and bond enhancing techniques. The results of the
various tests are summarized in Table 3. The results given in
Shear Bond Strength of Brick Mortar Joints Table 3 represent the mean of six values. Results of the table
reveal some interesting characteristics of flexural bond. The flex-
Shear bond strength of the brick mortar joints 共without precom- ural failures of prisms under the flexure test could be classified
pression兲 was determined for brick type B1 and CM2 mortar 共1:6 into three types:
cement mortar兲 along with bond-enhancing parameters. A brick • Type I: failure at the brick-mortar interface indicating bond
triplet specimen was used to obtain the shear bond strength of the failure 共Fig. 4兲;
brick mortar joints. The test setup is shown in Fig. 3. It is clear • Type II: failure of brick in flexure with the brick-mortar inter-
from the figure that the horizontal movement of the top and bot- face intact 共Fig. 5兲; and
tom bricks was restrained and the middle brick was free to move • Type III: a combination of Types I and II 共Fig. 6兲.
horizontally. Horizontal shear load was applied gradually using The three modes of failure clearly indicate that the mortar
the hydraulic jack till the bond between brick and mortar joint present in the bed joint never failed in flexure. The flexural
failed and the shear bond strength could be estimated. strength of the mortar was clearly higher than the flexural strength
of the brick or the brick-mortar interface. If the brick-mortar in-
terface had good bonding, it led to either a failure of brick 共Type
Compressive Strength of Brick Masonry
II兲 or a combination of brick and bond failure 共Type III兲. When
Compressive strength of the brick masonry was determined by the bond strength was poor, Type I failure could result, as is
testing five-brick-high bonded prism stacks with a height to thick- evident from Table 3. In general, a high strength cement mortar
ness ratio of 4. Prisms with various combinations of bricks, mor- like CM1 using a rich mix also develops a good bond with the
tars, and bond-enhancing parameters were prepared and tested for brick. Use of bond-enhancing methods with a rich mortar like
compressive strength. CM1 can further increase the bond strength. In the case of CM1


Table 3. Flexural Bond Strength and Compressive Strength of Brick Masonry Using Different Mortars 关Brick Type B1; Brick Compressive Strength
= 10.67 MPa; Coefficient of Variation 共%兲 in Parentheses兴
Flexural compressive
Type of bond bond strength Type of strength
Mortar type enhancing parameter 共MPa兲 bond failure 共MPa兲
CM1 Nil 0.205 共14.1兲 4 prisms, Type I 3.20 共20.8兲
2 prisms, Type III
CM1 A 0.317 共9.6兲 1 prism, Type I 4.00 共21.6兲
1 prism, Type II
4 prisms, Type III
CM1 D 0.222 共19.8兲 6 prisms, Type III 5.24 共19.7兲
CM2 Nil 0.088 共14.8兲 6 prisms, Type I 2.15 共24.4兲
CM2 A 0.227 共25.6兲 4 prisms, Type I 3.43 共21.7兲
2 prisms, Type III
CM2 C 0.130 共22.6兲 6 prisms, Type I 2.34 共32.5兲
CM2 D 0.154 共18.3兲 5 prisms, Type I 2.82 共18.6兲
1 prism, Type III
CM2 B 0.387 共18.3兲 2 prisms, Type I 4.09 共16.7兲
4 prisms, Type II
CLM Nil 0.137 共18.8兲 5 prisms, Type I 2.89 共27.5兲
1 prism, Type III
CLM A 0.223 共10.5兲 4 prisms, Type I 3.83 共24.1兲
2 prisms, Type III
CLM D 0.158 共5.2兲 5 prisms, Type I 2.92 共10.8兲
1 prism, Type III
CSM Nil 0.164 共21.7兲 4 prisms, Type I 2.53 共26.1兲
2 prisms, Type III
CSM A 0.323 共28.7兲 1 prism, Type I 4.66 共18.0兲
3 prisms, Type III
2 prism, Type II
CSM D 0.230 共7.6兲 1 prism, Type I 3.22 共32.0兲
5 prisms, Type III

cement mortar, use of a better frog was not very effective, but a
coat of cement slurry yielded a 50% increase in bond strength.
Thus, use of a rich cement mortar such as CM1 seems to be
adequate in providing a good bond of about 0.20 MPa. When a
leaner cement mortar like CM2 is used, the bond strength falls to
0.088 MPa. For this mortar, any attempt at bond enhancement
provides dramatic results. Use of a bond-enhancing technique of
Types A, B, C, or D immediately led to better bond strength. Of
the two attempts at providing “frogs” on the brick surface, the one

Fig. 4. Bond failure at brick-mortar interface Fig. 5. Brick failure in flexure


cement slurry 共Type A兲 seems to provide a significant improve-
ment. An additional frog 共Type D兲 is also helpful in bond en-
hancement. In general, an increase in bond strength yields more
examples of brick failure in flexure.
Table 4 shows some results of flexure bond strength using
brick types B2 and B3 with low compressive strength values of
4.29 and 3.17 MPa, respectively. Even here, results similar to
what was reported in Table 3 were discovered. Use of cement
slurry or epoxy coating 共Type A or B兲 did lead to better bond
strengths. Although the strengths of the bricks were quite low, the
bond strength was not reduced significantly. B2 and B3 type
bricks are quite weak as compared to the B1 type brick; hence,
there is a stronger tendency for the brick to fail in flexure. The
coefficient of variation 共17–37%兲 in this case is rather high when
compared to results for the B1 type brick 共5–27%兲 shown in
Table 3.
Fig. 6. Combination of brick failure and bond failure in flexure It is instructive to compare the brick-mortar bond strengths of
masonry using Indian bricks and mortars with the bond strengths
reported from other countries. Grenley 共1969兲 obtained modulus
involving a series of holes 共Type C兲 was less satisfactory than the of rupture values in the range of 0.10– 0.30 MPa using relatively
one with a diamond-shaped depression 共Type D兲. Use of an epoxy high strength bricks 共56– 150 MPa兲 and a range of mortar
resin coat 共Type B兲 on the brick was, however, extremely effec- strengths 共3.5– 40 MPa兲. Scrivener et al. 共1992兲 report in situ
tive and the bond strength was 0.387 MPa 共four times the value bond wrench test results, and their values ranged from
for a plain brick-mortar interface兲. 0.21 to 0.85 MPa. It is now clear that the bond strengths in Indian
It must also be pointed out here that, if there is a failure in the brick masonry, when no efforts are made to enhance bond, are
brick 共whether partial or complete兲, the measured flexural substantially less than the values obtained in developed countries.
strength is mostly less than the actual bond strength. This means The Indian situation is thus characterized by the use of low
that a large increase in bond strength is of little consequence if the strength bricks and high strength mortars, resulting in a masonry
brick itself is weak. with poor bond strength. It must also be pointed out here that the
Bond behavior with composite mortars involving additives bond wrench tests have been carried out after ensuring presence
such as lime or soil 共CSM and CLM type mortars兲 along with of adequate moisture in the mortar through prewetting of bricks.
combinations of bond-enhancing techniques is also given in Table Because the construction practices in India rarely follow adequate
3. This table readily reveals the fact that the composite mortars prewetting, the in situ bond strength can be substantially lower.
共CSM and CLM兲 have better bonding with the brick when com- Studies by Venumadhava Rao et al. 共1996兲 showed that the flex-
pared with cement mortar CM2. The results for cement-soil mor- ural bond strength could fall by 40–50% if the brick is completely
tar 共CSM兲 are even marginally better than those for cement-lime dry. This means that the in situ flexural bond strength of brick
mortar 共CLM兲. It is well known that composite mortars using masonry in India can be as low as 0.05 MPa when 1:6 cement
cement-soil or cement-lime mortars have better water retention mortar 共Type CM2兲 is used.
and an improved contact area due to better flow properties. These
features have obviously led to the better bonding, although the
Shear Bond Strength
compressive strengths of these mortars are less than the compres-
sive strength of cement mortar CM2. This clearly shows that the Shear bond strength 共without precompression兲 of masonry triplets
mortar adhesion to brick is more important than the mortar com- was determined for B1 type brick and CM2 mortar with a com-
pressive strength if improved bond strength is desired. These mor- bination of various bond-enhancing techniques. The shear bond
tars also respond to bond-enhancing techniques. Use of a coat of strength values 共mean of six values兲 are given in Table 5. Shear

Table 4. Flexural Bond Strength and Compressive Strength of Brick Masonry Using CM2 Type Mortar and B2 and B3 Type Bricks 关Mortar Compressive
Strength= 7.32 MPa; Coefficient of Variation 共%兲 in Parentheses兴

Compressive strength Flexural bond strength Prism compressive strength

Type 共MPa兲 Bond enhancing parameter 共MPa兲 Type of failure 共MPa兲
B2 4.29 Nil 0.098 共16.8兲 3 prisms, Type I 1.05 共40.6兲
2 prisms, Type III
1 prism, Type II
B2 4.29 A 0.157 共35.9兲 1 prism, Type I 1.36 共37.0兲
2 prisms, Type III
3 prism, Type II
B3 3.17 Nil 0.128 共33.3兲 4 prisms, Type I 0.633 共30.1兲
2 prisms, Type III
B3 3.17 B 0.216 共36.7兲 2 prisms, Type I 1.05 共31.9兲
4 prisms, Type III


Table 5. Shear Bond Strength and Compressive Strength of Masonry
关Brick Type B1; Mortar Type CM2; Coefficient of Variation 共%兲 in Pa-
Shear Prism
Bond bond compressive
enhancing strength strength
parameter 共MPa兲 共MPa兲
Nil 0.054 共25.4兲 2.15 共24.4兲
A 0.138 共34.5兲 3.43 共21.7兲
D 0.131 共19.8兲 2.82 共18.6兲
B 0.265 共19.0兲 4.09 共16.7兲

bond strength is about 60% of the flexural bond strength. There is

a drastic increase 共2.5- to 5-fold兲 in shear bond strength when
bond-enhancing techniques are used. For example, the shear bond
strength increases from 0.054 to 0.265 MPa when a bond-
enhancing technique such as epoxy coating is tried. Like flexural
bond strength values, shear bond strength values also have a large Fig. 7. Relation between flexural bond strength and compressive
coefficient of variation. strength of masonry

Brick-Mortar Bond Strength versus Masonry sive strength increase being higher at the low bond strength re-
Compressive Strength gion. On the whole, a four-fold increase in flexural bond strength
The bond between brick and mortar is critical for the composite resulted in a doubling of the compressive strength. A study of this
behavior between the two materials. The development of lateral graph also reveals several other features. The bond strength ap-
tension and compression in the brick and mortar 共or vice versa兲 is pears to have a stronger correlation with the compressive strength
based on the assumption that there is no bond failure at the inter- of masonry than the mortar strength. A plot of mortar strength and
face. It is hence useful to understand the correlation between bond masonry compressive strength 共Fig. 8兲 shows a complete lack of
and compressive strength. correlation. Fig. 8 again clearly shows that, for a given mortar, an
The nature of stresses in brick masonry under compression has increase in bond strength invariably increases the compressive
an important bearing on the interrelationship between bond and strength of the masonry. It is also to be noted that a weak mortar
compressive strength. As discussed earlier, the brick used here with a good bond can often perform better than a stronger mortar
has an elastic modulus that is about 15 times less than that of the with a poorer bond strength. Fig. 9 shows a correlation between
mortar in the joints. This means that, unlike in the discussions of masonry compressive strength and bond strength 共both shear
Hilsdorf 共1969兲, Francis et al. 共1971兲, and Totaro 共1994兲, the brick bond and flexural bond兲 using B1 type brick and CM2 type mor-
here will be in triaxial compression while the mortar will be in tar with various bond strengths. It is again clear from this figure
biaxial tension and compression. The horizontal compression in that there is good correlation 共nonlinear兲 between bond strength
the brick is the result of the stiffer mortar pulling it inwards for 共both shear bond and flexural bond兲 and compressive strength of
strain compatibility. The shear stress of the brick-mortar interface masonry. Comparison of all these results seems to indicate
will lead to horizontal compression in the brick. In the event of strongly that bond strength is of paramount importance in achiev-
bond failure at the brick-mortar interface, the horizontal compres- ing good compressive strength in masonry.
sion induced by the shear stresses will also vanish and the brick
will fail by lateral tension. Thus, one of the failure mechanisms in
soft brick–stiff mortar masonry is dependent on the shear bond
strength of the brick mortar interface. A higher bond strength
means that the brick will develop a large horizontal compression
as long as the high shear stress in the brick-mortar interface is
Table 3 gives a comparison between flexural bond strength and
compressive strength of masonry for B1 type bricks using various
mortars and bond-enhancing treatments. For a given mortar, an
increase in bond strength invariably leads to an increase in com-
pressive strength of the masonry. For instance, when CM2 mortar
共1:6 cement mortar兲 is used, the bond strength of 0.088 MPa leads
to a masonry compressive strength of 2.15 MPa. However, when
the bond strength is raised to 0.387 MPa using an epoxy resin
coating 共Type B兲, the masonry compressive strength rises to
4.09 MPa. This trend is noticed in general for all mortars.
Fig. 7 shows a graph indicating the correlation between bond
strength and compressive strength for B1 type brick using four
types of mortars and bond-enhancing techniques. The figure Fig. 8. Relation between mortar compressive strength and masonry
shows that the correlation is nonlinear, with the rate of compres- compressive strength


Fig. 9. Relation between bond strength and masonry compressive

The influence of bond strength can also be clearly seen in the

failure pattern of masonry prisms in compression. When bond
strengths are low, the masonry fails by vertical splitting cracks on
all four faces of the prism. Bond failures are also frequently as-
sociated with compressive failure, as it is possible to neatly sepa-
rate prism portions on either side of a joint, for low bond strength
mortars. Fig. 10 shows this type of masonry failure in compres-

Fig. 11. Diagonal shear failure of masonry prism under compression

sion. As the bond strength is increased, failure of the masonry

prism takes place through the development of diagonal shear
cracks, as shown in Fig. 11. This failure is analogous to diagonal
failures in concrete cylinders under compression. It may also be
observed that, in such prisms, failure of the bond does not occur.
These failure patterns confirm the earlier indication that the
brick fails in horizontal tension when there is bond failure in the
brick-mortar interface. It must be pointed out here that the bond
failure here is a shear-bond failure and shear bond strength and
flexural bond strength are well correlated, as shown in Fig. 9. In
the case of a higher bond strength at the brick-mortar interface, as
in the case of an “epoxy” bonded joint, the brick does not fail by
lateral tension and the prism as a whole fails in shear.
Table 4 gives some more comparisons between flexural bond
strength and masonry compressive strength for B2 and B3 type
bricks. Improvement in compressive strength is noticed even
here, although the bricks are much weaker than the B1 type
bricks. The coefficient of variation is however very large in some
of the results.
The differences between brick masonry in Western countries
with high modulus bricks and brick masonry in India with low
modulus bricks need to be examined. In the case of brick masonry
with high modulus bricks, the brick is under lateral tension, in-
duced by shear stresses at the brick-mortar interface. An increase
in these shear stresses is likely to increase the lateral tension and
Fig. 10. Bond separation failure during prism under compression probably hasten brick failure. In the Indian brick masonry 共with


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